Fallout

There is a case to be made for Fallout 4’s main story being the least linear out of the whole franchise.

Fallout 4 made a lot of controversial changes, like the alterations to it's dialogue system, he introduction of settlement building, and the meter-based critical hit mechanic. Whilst these decisions all have boy supporters and opponents, there is one criticism I see repeatedly about its main story that I just don't think is fair.

Specifically, the idea that it's too linear when compared to previous entries in the franchise.

Let's consider the first game's main story. The Vault Dweller must find the water chip (there is only one, in one location) and bring it back to vault 13. Then, he or she must resolve the mutant issue, eventually leading to the Master's Cathedral, where the Dweller can kill the Master, convince the Master to commit suicide, or join the Unity. The branching options here are in the ability to skip clues (sequence-breaking through out-of-character knowledge) and the fact that additional dialogue options (including the aforementioned suicide) can be accessed if the Dweller has explored optional areas enough.

Then there's Fallout 2, which curiously enough has a main plot which becomes branchier in the middle, and a lot more linear again towards the end. Whilst interactions with various factions can give different options for reaching the Enclave Oil Rig, the Chosen One must kill the President and the head of the Secret Service, resulting in the base being destroyed.

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Fallout 3 does something similar, fitting with its "alpha and omega" theme. There are several ways to acquire clues, skip large portions of the plot, and enter Little Lamplight. Once the GECK is acquired, however, the plot becomes fairly straightforward, with a final major choice at the end.

Fallout New Vegas has a quite linear first act up to entering the Strip, with several options after that point. From that point, almost all the other elements of the game are skippable, depending on faction choice, with Yes Man being able to ignore almost all other factions and sidequests, whilst the NCR can bypass the Platinum Chip altogether. No matter what, though, the story will always end on Hoover Dam, fighting across either east to west, or west to east.

Fallout 4, by contrast, has arguably three different endings, each with radically different quest structures. One can destroy the Institute with the aid of another faction (The Nuclear Option), one choice with three variations. Alternatively, one can side WITH the Institute and destroy the Brotherhood of Steel by overriding their superweapon (Airship Down). As a final option, one can play the factions against one another, having the Railroad destroy the Brotherhood (Rocket's Red Glare) then wiping the Railroad leadership out on behalf of the Institute (the Sole Survivor can explicitly tell Father that he or she simply used the Railroad until they were no longer useful, avoiding both the Nuclear Option AND Airship Down.

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Furthermore, the player is given considerable freedom in how to handle the factions. The Railroad can be eliminated upon first contact if the player wishes it, permanently closing off that faction. The Brotherhood and the Institute can't be destroyed as easily, but they can be permanently made enemies of the first time the Sole Survivor meets Danse and Father. The Brotherhood questline has an interesting variation if Madison Li cannot be recruited. As an especially interesting twist, the faction which can wipe out two of the others and go on to be he most powerful in the game is completely optional. The entire Minuteman questline and all of its NPCs can be avoided if the player chooses.

The nonlinearity starts earlier than people tend to remember, too. There are a myriad of ways to be directed towards Nick Valentine, including an option for players who travel to Goodneighbour first. Alternatively, it can be sequence-broken, by heading straight to Park Street station.

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